I’ve just come out of two solid weeks of toddlers with E. Coli infections. Misery barely beings to describe it.
On Memorial Day, there was a huge party down at our apartment pool. We avoided it. The next day, I thought we were safe, so we went traipsing down to the pool. Turns out there was a more informal party going on with almost as many people.
Against my better judgment, I let the kids swim anyway. We were already there and ready to go, and I hate going back on a promise I’ve made. So they swam in the pool where a lot of other people had been. The kiddy pool, in particular, smelled funny.
A few days later, E. Coli hit.
It nailed my two-year-old first. Fever, going at both ends, stomach cramps, the works. I thought it was a normal stomach bug, which usually only lasts 24 hours. Boy, was I wrong.
One day turned into two, then three, then four. I had a hard time just getting fluids into her, let alone keeping food down. But slowly she pulled out of it, and the stomach cramps subsided.
Then it hit my four-year-old. I found out later that she had actually drank the nasty pool water.
She got hugely, massively sick. Five days of fever and vomiting. Debilitating stomach cramps that left her crying.
By this time I had tumbled to the fact that this was probably E. Coli. I frantically researched what you do for it.
Turns out, there’s nothing you can do. Zero. Zilch. Because of the way it attaches to the intestinal wall, taking antibiotics only kills the good bacterial keeping it from spreading. Which makes the E. Coli spread faster, injecting more toxins and finally shutting down your kidneys. It’s a nasty beast. Mayoclinic’s website advises rest and fluids. That’s it.
But reading about the way E. Coli attaches to the intestinal wall reminded me of things I’d read about probiotics. When they have E. Coli outbreaks in restaurants or from produce, not everybody gets sick. The reason is because in some people, because of diet and other care, the good bacteria in their gut occupies every square millimeter of space. There’s no place for the E. Coli to attach.
So I started researching probiotics as a treatment for E. Coli. Turns out, a few years ago, there was a huge outbreak in Europe. The doctors there desperately researched probiotics, to the point of engineering a certain strain specifically targeted at blocking E. Coli.
There was no way my four-year-old could choke down a probiotic tablet. But she could drink a little kombucha.
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. The yeasts and bacteria in it are the good kind that your gut needs to digest food. Our grocery store carries a high quality brand. The kind I’ve found most effective in healing a damaged gut is the kind with blue-green algae in it. It looks horrifying, but it tastes pretty good.
So I got two bottles and spent a whole day giving her sips through a straw. She would drink until the cramps started, then she would go to sleep. When she’d wake up, she’d drink a little more and sleep again. Her vomiting slowed down, but the cramps were so bad that if she moved around, they forced her to vomit again.
It was awful. I was exhausted. But the morning after the kombucha day, she woke up with no cramps, asking for food.
So now we’re all recovering, myself included. This has been such a beating. E. Coli is miserable, miserable stuff. But man, probiotics are a miracle. I hope our awful experience is helpful to other sufferers out there.